Sunday, 17 March 2013

Orienteering relay

This morning was the annual Gauteng Orienteering Clubs relay event and my club took on the role of organisers. All credit goes to Cindy and Cobus who did the mapping and planning and organising - the rest of us just helped out on the day.

Relays are great fun and we only really have one event a year. There's another at SA O Champs but I don't always go to SA Champs - depends on the location. I go to the Champs up here (or near-ish), but not in the Cape.

This realy event really is the only time what we compete as clubs against each other and in past years AR Club had fared well. This year attendance all around was low but those there enjoyed the event and the wonderful weather.

Mass start for the third leg runners still waiting. I'm second from the left. It was pretty warm. Photo by Bronywn Hemer.
How the relay works is that each runner in a team runs a course. The distances vary a bit. Also, there are a number of variations on each course (short, medium and long) so that runners in different teams on the first leg don't run the same course, particularly the competing teams. The same distance course i.e. short will share some controls while others will be placed 'parallel' but on different features. You've really got to read your control descriptions and to check the control number so that you don't make a mistake.

If one runner punches wrong or misses a control then the team is disqualified. Psychologically there's a bit more pressure on your because teammates are waiting for you to return so they can run and also time wasted compromises the other runners and the team - so there's more nerves that at a normal event where you run for yourself.

I was teamed up in an ad hoc team with relatively new clubmates, Karen and Robert. They've got two young boys who are getting into orienteering with their folks. Karen took the short starting leg, Robert took the middle distance second leg and I took the third leg, which was the longest. We were the first-placed ad hoc team. Yay!

With Karen and Robert. Photo by Bronwyn Hemer.
Because I've been so caught up with the orienteering schools league this year (late Jan to early March) and with creating school programmes ('O in a Box Level 1 and Level 2 - last year), teaching a mapping course (Nov and Dec) and the coaching course (Oct last year) I've felt very involved with O but I haven't actually run a course for AGES! As one of the orienteers mentioned today of my absence on the event front, "It has been noticed".

So to actually go out and run a course - a clean and efficient course - I was charmed. No major bloopses; just one slight overshoot as I battled to distinguish two thicket clusters. I tried to peek into the first one, which I thought was the right one but couldn't see any control. I moved about 20m on to the next and found another control - not mine. So I backtracked to the first thicket and found the control hidden in the long grass. No biggie. So, overall I was happy. And even more happy that I felt good on the run. My running has been erratic over the past two weeks with Forest Run - although I did spend a lot of time on my feet (and about 80km) tagging the route.

This next Saturday I head for Namibia to run the five-day Namib Desert Challenge. I'm so looking forward to it and today's run has boosted my confidence a little. As with any race, I just go into it and take what comes. If this event is anything like their inaugural event (Feb 2009) - which I'm sure it will be - then I'm in for a most wonderful week on running and a well-organised event. More on this during the week as I pack for this semi-self-sufficient staged race.

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